When someone is speaking to you in conversation, it is easy to become distracted and think about your response instead of fully listening to what they are saying. When this happens with clients, they may sense that they have not been heard and get frustrated, especially if your response does not completely address their thoughts. Fortunately, listening skills can be improved with practice, which in turn helps you serve clients more effectively. Whether you are an educator, healthcare provider or doula, become a better listener by starting with these easy tips:
When speaking with a client, do everything in your power to ensure they have your full attention. Move away from computers, televisions, and ignore your phone. The person you are speaking with will appreciate your attentiveness. Listening carefully is much easier without interruptions.
Maintain Eye Contact
Eye contact is an important part of any conversation. Maintaining eye contact allows your mind to focus on what the person on saying rather than on other things. If your eyes drift away, your ears will too.
Learning to be quiet is one of the best things you can do to become a better listener. Though simple, it can be difficult to put into practice. Most of us are tempted to interrupt with an answer or counterpoint when someone talks. However, if you wish to be a good listener, you must control the urge to interrupt—no matter how important you think your response is. Take a few breaths instead and reply only after your client is finished speaking.
Honesty is key to a successful conversation. If you didn't hear what someone said, let them know. If you don't quite understand something, ask them to elaborate. If your mind is distracted by something else, be upfront with them about it. You don't need to be perfect to be a great listener, but you do need to be truthful and genuine.
The art of listening is a tricky skill to master, yet it is key to healthy relationships with clients—and with your family and friends! By implementing these steps, you will be well on your way to becoming the best listener you can be.